Want to wake up here and have this view right in front of you? You just need to visit New Caledonia!
As a special collectivity of France in southwest Pacific Ocean this small island is a true piece of Europe in the middle of nowhere.
Hot summers with a sea temperature of around 26 degrees was one of the reasons why we chose this place as our holiday destination.
Another thing I liked while reading about New Caledonia is that it’s not so crowded as other islands around here. In a way it’s not discovered yet and that’s what made it so attractive.
We flew from Auckland and it took us two and a half hours to get there, how great is that! We landed in Noumea, biggest town on the island. And I have to tell you it’s much bigger than we expected.
It took us around 45 minutes to get to the city centre from the airport. I’m going to give you one advice now – don’t take ‘Arc en ciel’ shuttle bus. There is a public transport which cost 280 XPF. It was Sunday evening when we got there and we had to take that shuttle which cost us 3000 XPF one way per person! More than ten times higher price!! Crazy, but we didn’t have a choice.
Many tourists in New Caledonia spend most or all of their time in Noumea (don’t do that). It is a great place, with beautiful sandy beaches, bars and restaurants along the coast and many places to visit on a day trip.
A few things to note; New Caledonia is not a cheap place to go to. It depends a lot what kind of traveler you are. In Noumea we stayed in a backpackers and while traveling around the island we were camping so for us the accommodation wasn’t expensive. Interesting thing is that there is only one hostel in Noumea and there’s no camping grounds in the vicinity so our options were limited for the time spent in the city.
The view from our room in the backpackers. Beautiful!
When it is about buying a food, prices in supermarkets surprised me a lot. It’s more expensive than here in New Zealand. It’s almost cheaper to eat in a restaurant than to buy a meal for two in the supermarket. Other options for a quick delicious (cheaper) meal are small shops called Snack. You will see during lunch breaks in Noumea how busy those shops are when everyone rush there to grab a bite.
One thing I like to do when visiting other countries is stopping by at the market. The market in Nouma is open from Tuesday to Friday from 5am to midday. You can buy there delicious local fruit and veggies. It is located beside the marina at Port-Moselle.
City centre is very busy until early afternoon. Everything close early in Noumea and everyone move from hot sunny streets to the beach. In case you are planning some shopping do it in the morning.
There’s not much going on in the centre in the evening, all the happenings are at the Anse Vata beach. It is the most vibrant part of Noumea and everyone is there.
Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square)
City centre Christmas Festival at the Coconut Square.
Anse Vata beach.
One of the resorts in Noumea is called Le Meridien and you can walk there from Anse Vata beach. Great thing about the resorts in New Caledonia is that you can use their facilities even though you are not staying there. This resort has a great bar on the beach under the palm trees, perfect to hide from the sun a little bit.
Many day trips are available from Noumea, a lot of them go from Anse Vata. With a taxi boat you can get to the small islands close to town or you can take catamaran to the Amedee Lighthouse. There are only one or two companies which offer this trip to the lighthouse so you need to pay the whole package (from 15000 XPF), you can’t just pay for the boat ride.
We went to the Duck Island, it is just 10 minutes with a taxi boat from Noumea. It is a nice place for a half day trip. People come here to snorkel and gear is available for rent but it’s better to bring your own. There is an underwater trail you can follow to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Have in mind that there’s no a lot of shade on the beach.
Ile aux Canards (Duck Island)
First three days in New Caledonia went fast and it was time for us to hit the road around the island. More tips in my next post!